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At Work: Historical Images of Labour in Saskatchewan

At Work: Historical Images of
Labour in Saskatchewan

 
University of Saskatchewan

Public Safety

Prince Albert Fire Hall #1, 1909
Prince Albert Fire Hall #1, 1909

Public safety work has been defined as the prevention of, and protection from, events that could endanger the safety of the general public from significant danger, injury/harm, or damage, such as crimes and/or disasters both natural or man-made.

Members of police and fire departments, as well as of emergency medical services, pop immediately to mind in connection with these occupations. However a much broader range of jobs, might be included in any list devoted to the protection of the health and safety of the public, as well as of their personal property and financial security. This would include health and utility inspectors; animal control officers; lifeguards; road maintenance workers and traffic guards; and private security staff.

Firefighters, 29 January 1980
Firefighters, 29 January 1980

Because some of their work is dramatic and newsworthy, images of both firemen and policemen appear to be generously represented in many Saskatchewan archives. During the first two decades of the 20th century small town photographers were clearly eager to capture on film images of fires, industrial accidents, particularly train derailments, and the effects of natural calamities such as floods and tornadoes. These were frequently printed as postcards to update distant friends and family with local events. Images of the work of both police and fire corps are also very common in those archives which preserve the photographic records and film stock produced by local newspapers and television stations.

Queen's Hotel Fire, 2 June 1980
Queen's Hotel Fire, 2 June 1980

Fire protection involves a variety of jobs. Best known is the work of firefighters, the men and more recently women, trained primarily to put out fires that threaten life and property, and to rescue individuals from burning and collapsed buildings and car accidents. Because of the hazards faced and courage shown, firefighters are among the most highly rated and trusted of public service professionals. Fire protection also involves the prevention of fires through public education and the enforcement of fire codes. Fire investigators also investigate and report on the causes and effects of fires.


Two Saskatoon Policemen at Accident Scene, [ca. 1967]
Two Saskatoon Policemen at Accident Scene, [ca. 1967]

Police work is similarly varied. Police officers are empowered to enforce the law, to protect life and property, and to help maintain public order. Some police are "uniformed" for the performance of duties that require the immediate recognition of the officer's authority, such as traffic control or quick response to emergencies and crimes in progress. Uniforms are usually worn as well for public events and for educational presentations. Detectives more often wear business attire in their investigative work where uniforms might distract or intimidate contacts. On some occasions police are assigned to work undercover, where they conceal their police identity to investigate crimes, including organized crime, narcotics, and prostitution offences.

Woman's Body Found in <br />River Under Bridge, 16 May 1980
Woman's Body Found in
River Under Bridge, 16 May 1980

Related to the work of police is that of private security firms that guard property and inspect parcels and passengers and their luggage at airports.

As yet less common in archives are images of the many public employees charged with insuring the safety of food products and water, and the cleanliness and sterility of medical facilities and equipment. Motor safety is increased by both the enforcement of traffic laws and regulations, and by the work of those who see to the physical maintenance of streets and highways, including the removal of snow and ice in winter.


Medical Autoclave at the Newly Opened <br />University Hospital, Saskatoon, March 1955
Medical Autoclave at the Newly Opened
University Hospital, Saskatoon, March 1955
New X-Ray Equipment at <br />the Saskatoon Airport, 28 April 1978
New X-Ray Equipment at
the Saskatoon Airport, 28 April 1978
Canadian Linen Lockout, 4 June 1981
Canadian Linen Lockout, 4 June 1981
Testing Milk, February 1957
Testing Milk, February 1957
Sanitation Inspector at Marie's Lunch, 1957
Sanitation Inspector at Marie's Lunch, 1957
Snow Removal, 1936 or 1937
Snow Removal, 1936 or 1937
Police at the Scene of a Bank Robbery, 11 July 1980
Police at the Scene of a Bank Robbery, 11 July 1980
 
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ American civil-rights leader (1929—1968)